Thursday, January 21, 2010

VG article: Erickson 2010 Striatal Volume Predicts Level of VG Skill Acquis, Cerebral Cortex, (In Press)

Here is the latest video game study that discusses the changes to the striatal volume while learning how to play a novel video game. Both ventral and dorsal striatal volumes predicted early acquisition rates but hippocampal volumes did not predict learning improvement.
Video game skills transfer to other tasks, but individual differences in performance and in learning and transfer rates make it difficult to identify the source of transfer benefits. We asked whether variability in initial acquisition and of improvement in performance on a demanding video game, the Space Fortress game, could be predicted by variations in the pretraining volume of either of 2 key brain regions implicated in learning and memory: the striatum, implicated in procedural learning and cognitive flexibility, and the hippocampus, implicated in declarative memory. We found that hippocampal volumes did not predict learning improvement but that striatal volumes did. Moreover, for the striatum, the volumes of the dorsal striatum predicted improvement in performance but the volumes of the ventral striatum did not. Both ventral and dorsal striatal volumes predicted early acquisition rates. Furthermore, this early-stage correlation between striatal volumes and learning held regardless of the cognitive flexibility demands of the game versions, whereas the predictive power of the dorsalstriatal volumes held selectively for performance improvements in a game version emphasizing cognitive flexibility. These findings suggest a neuroanatomical basis for the superiority of training strategies that promote cognitive flexibility and transfer to untrained tasks.

Pulled from the methodology section, here is how the two groups received different treatments:
For the fixed priority group, subjects were always asked to maximize the Total score during training and were reminded that Total score was the sum of the Control, Velocity, Speed,and Points sub-scores. This resulted in 20 assessments of performance over the training period. Participants in the fixed priority group were told to emphasize each of these subcomponents of the game equally. They completed 5 blocks of 6 trials each.
For the variable priority group, participants were asked to focus their resources on improving and monitoring different sub-scores of the game during the 30 practice games. They were given 5 blocks of 6 trials each, in which they were asked to emphasize a particular aspect of the Space Fortress game, and this emphasis changed every 6 trials. 
Posted via web from ExerGame Lab's posterous

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